A World of Monsters:
Monstrosity is divinity. With those unassuming words, I was able to envision a new fictional universe without humanity. As I was reading Circe last year, I came to a humble conclusion: middle-tier gods and demigods make the most interesting protagonists in worlds where divines and demons are real. They’re one hand raised toward the heavens, while keeping one foot planted on the earth. The nymphs, the satyrs, the banshees, the seventh sons, these players are the perfect characters to develop stories and conflicts around. Why, you might ask? Because they’re not abstracts. They’re not living incarnations of personified concepts. They’re often regulated to bit pieces, statues to complement the central characters, the gods and their damned children, but they’re easy to create, and more so, to make them relatable.
They scrap, struggle, and scheme to court favor, to raise their status, their power, and their prestige. They’re divine middle management, desperate to curry renown, to gain glory, and to ascend to the heavens.
But the line between divines and demons is simple: they are both.
But what about the others who don’t fall into this dichotomy, and more specifically, what kind of lens will the universe be viewed from?
The Heavens on Fire:
For all intents and purposes, the setting I’ve envisioned harkens back to classic myth, but with the grit and the verisimilitude of Sword and Sorcery, and a dash of the Western. The story I’m working on currently is called The Tyrannous Stars. But its inspiration isn’t Greek, Norse, etc. It’s classic Celtic mythology. But not the world of the Fae and the various fashionable sociopaths of Urban Fantasy or Magical Realism. It’s the Mythological Cycle. It’s the times of the Formorians, demons of chaos, versus the Tuatha De Danu, gods of order, though I use the term loosely. It’s the times of invasions. And it’s tracing them back to a root.
Inspiration is merely that: a springboard. While the human mind has a limited frame for reference, the ability to rework/reweave elements and connect them to larger, archaic structures is important. Legends shift from region to region — a god in one tribe might have been a demon in another — and because of this, I elected to refamiliarize myself with the Proto-Indo Aryan mythology.
From this tracing of myth back to what many historians and anthropologists consider, or once considered, the prototype of many religions, I was able to structure the entire universe around a simple cosmogony.
When the heavens burned, when the stars bled with cackling fire, one world became a hundred, a shattered prism. One hundred worlds. One hundred dreams. One hundred possibilities of what could be.
This was the original concept I created at fifteen. This is me cannibalizing and returning to my own roots.
This is the universe in which an Age of Heroes died but their remnants continued, forced to create destinies that were never thought possible. This is not a cycle of heroes, stranger; yet, surely, as the divines and the demons without power or strong souls yearn for, heroes will rise.
An Aria of Strife and Discord:
Without humanity, us little humans, conventional morality goes out the window. The observable existence of magic, divine rights of priestess-queens, kingdoms forged on the raw power of a great goddess’s expanding soul, it’s all about power: the power of prayer, the power of hexes, and the power of miracles; the power of dominion, the literal earth conforming to the vision of she who controls it. Power, as it always is, is the ultimate expression of freedom and control.
It’s also what keeps at bay the corrupted remnants of lost gods, broken demons, and what happens when those who once ruled the worlds come back wrong.
In ancient times, people believed and practiced customs what many today would consider barbaric. It’s nothing new. Every century has its mores and its norms that shift and twist and slither and skitter from region to region. Everyone assumes they’re right, they’re holy, and they’re victors.
But when everybody is right — in their belief, their power, their destiny — everyone is wonderfully wrong. And it’s this hubris that allows old and wicked things, broken things and pitiful things, jealous things and arrogant things, to unravel the fabrics of reality. Discord is the enemy of all those who adhere to strife, the unifying engine of life. I purposely rejected traditional good and evil because its application makes no sense in the face of literal gods who judge the souls of the dead. Every pantheon possesses its own judgement, afterlife, and norms they celebrate and scorn.
When the universe is amoral, you have to create what is just and right for your people. This very foundation of the universe is all I needed to craft tragedies and triumphs, sorrows and songs. In the aftermath of a world that was once great, her hundred children have to either kill or restore their glorious past.
But the truth is, as they will come to learn, their worlds will never be like the old one, their mother and their origin.
That is the struggle between strife and discord, the poles of their savage worlds.
So begins the cycle of fates and chimes.
— Allan Bishop